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What To Do If A Government-Owned Car Hits You

By Butler Prather LLP on June 24, 2021

Whether you are operating on the streets of Atlanta or in the rural areas of Georgia, one thing is certain – vehicle accidents are going to occur. For the vast majority of vehicle accident cases throughout Georgia, the claim will be resolved through a settlement with the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver. However, what happens if you are involved in a vehicle accident caused by the driver inside of a government-owned vehicle? Here, we want to discuss how these claims will differ from traditional vehicle accident claims.

Georgia Accidents With Government-Owned Vehicles

Even though you may not realize it, accidents involving government vehicles will result in a much different process when it comes to victims securing compensation for their losses. In the state of Georgia, there are significant procedural differences that arise for vehicle accidents involving government vehicles.

Perhaps the most glaring difference between traditional personal injury claims after a vehicle accident occurs and incidents involving government vehicles is the time limit to file a lawsuit against a government entity. There are numerous government entities in the state of Georgia, including state agencies, county agencies, and city agencies. Each has its own procedural differences in place for these situations.

For example, even though the typical personal injury statute of limitation in Georgia is two years from the date an injury occurs, claims against the state of Georgia or a county government in Georgia must be presented to the appropriate agency within 12 months of the incident occurring (O.C.G.A. § 36-11-1).

Claims against a local city or municipality in Georgia will require that an ante litem notice be sent to the municipality within six months from the date the accident occurred (Georgia Code § 36-33-5).

What the Process Will Look Like

Agencies in Georgia typically have a fair amount of sovereign immunity, which can prevent government employees or agencies from facing lawsuits in personal injury claims. However, under Georgia’s Tort Claims Act, the state does recognize various exceptions for filing lawsuits against government entities when accidents occur that are caused by the negligent actions of government employees.

However, unlike traditional personal injury cases where an injury victim can pursue a negligence case against the individual, that claims against government employees will operate differently. Under the Tort Claims Act, the agency that a negligent employee works for will be named as the defendant (i.e. the Georgia DOT, the Georgia State Patrol, etc.), not the individual.

Additionally, the law states that these lawsuits are subject to recovery limits of $1,000,000 per person or $3,000,000 in total for the incident.

What About Accidents With Federal Vehicles?

For accidents involving federal vehicles, the claims will not be subject to Georgia’s Tort Claims Act. For example, if an accident occurs between a personal vehicle and a United States Postal Service or a federal law enforcement vehicle, these claims will be subject to the rules and requirements under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

In order to pursue a FTCA claim against an agency due to the actions of a negligent federal employee, the injury victim must go through various complex steps established under federal law. It is crucial to ensure that you seek assistance from a skilled vehicle accident lawyer familiar with claims against the federal government if you find yourself involved in a crash with a federal vehicle. Contact our Atlanta car accident attorneys today.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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